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Must-win game for SL

Dale Steyn, during a training session

Colombo: Sri Lanka may hand a first Test cap to 21-year-old wicket-keeper Niroshan Dickwella as they bid to level the two-Test series against South Africa.

Dickwella was drafted into the squad for second and final Test starting at the Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) ground, here, on Thursday, after fast bowler Shaminda Eranga was ruled out with a hand injury.

Eranga had eight stitches inserted to the webbing between his right thumb and index finger while fielding in the first test at Galle, which Sri Lanka lost by 153 runs.

Dickwella may replace out-of-form wicket-keeper Dinesh Chandimal.

“Chandimal is available for selection, but Dickwella also has a good chance of playing,” captain Angelo Mathews said on Wednesday.

“We will take a final decision after looking at the wicket.”

Mathews said the loss in Galle was a wake-up call for his team who had been in a good run since December, winning the Asia Cup, the World T20 and the Test series in England.

The SSC track is normally excellent for batting. “It is usually a flat wicket here. It does a little bit in the morning session and then turns out to be a batting paradise. I hope it will be different.

“But whatever the pitch we play on, we’ve got find ways to beat South Africa,” said Mathews.

South Africa last won a Test series in Sri Lanka 21 years ago. At present, they have a chance to reverse the trend and enter the second Test with an advantage.

“It’s strange to be considered favourites,” captain Hashim Amla said.

“We are really pleased with our performance in the last game, but we are addressing this game as though we are coming in with a clean slate. There’s a bigger picture here.”

A 1-0 victory would be enough for South Africa to reclaim the No.1 Test ranking. But the approach at SSC will be a measure of Amla as either an attacking or a defensive captain.

“It will be important to assess after two days before we know where the game is going,” he said.

“We always say on the subcontinent that the game speeds up later on. Lets see how it starts before we start making any tactical decisions.”